Just when we thought the sustained and deadly opioid and heroin crisis couldn’t get any worse, there’s a new drug being added to the mix and it’s called Carfentanil. It’s 100 times more potent than fentanyl (which is 50 times more potent than heroin) and 10,000 times more potent than morphine. A synthetic opioid akin to Fentanyl, Carfentanil has no approved uses in humans and is used exclusively in veterinary medicine to sedate 10,000 pound elephants. The drug is odorless, colorless and can be absorbed via skin contact, inhaled or ingested orally. Given Carfentanil’s potency, it’s likely that a single dose of Naloxone wouldn’t be enough to reverse an overdose. It’s easy to imagine scenarios where no amount of Naloxone will bring someone back to life.
After a series of fatal overdoses involving Fentanyl analogs like Carfentanil in Ohio in August, the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) issued a bulletin detailing how these drugs are making their way onto our streets and into our homes.
The DEA believes that most of the Carfentanil being sold is the US is illicitly imported from China, brought in by Mexican drug traffickers, or simply purchased online. This drug, like Fentanyl, will continue to appear in counterfeit opioid medications, and will likely appear in a variety of non-opiate drugs like heroin as traffickers seek to expand the market in search of higher profits.
Here on Long Island, we haven’t seen Carfentanil yet, but it’s not readily picked up tests and by the time we identify it, it will have claimed lives. Educating drug users about this latest threat is critical, but let’s not fool them into believing that they’ll be able to identify a “bad” batch of heroin or that there’s any such thing as a “good” batch of heroin. Address the key drivers of substance use and we won’t have to issue new warnings about Fentanyl, Carfentanil or the next drug de jour.